Six European Nations Sign an Agreement To Protect the North Sea Offshore and Underwater Energy Infrastructure From ‘Hostile Attacks’

Among the many different ways in which the war in Ukraine has disrupted the geopolitical realities in Europe, energy is certainly one of the most critical.

Nations have been scrambling to provide a steady power supply for both industrial needs and to keep the population warm and the lights on.

The massive sanctions against Moscow also meant that many in the old continent had to find new suppliers to substitute the inexpensive Russian gas.

In this context, the North Sea stands out as a vital area of interest.

We learn now that Britain and other countries with maritime borders on the North Sea signed an agreement to work together and protect offshore and underwater infrastructure.

The six countries involved are Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Germany, Norway and the Netherlands. They signed a declaration in which they jointly vow to share information to that end.

Reuters reported:

“Threats to undersea cables and pipelines have become a security focus for Western European countries following the September 2022 explosions on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, built to ship gas from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea.”

NATO has expressed fears that Russia may sabotage undersea cables to retaliate against the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, and also to punish Western nations for arming Ukraine.

“‘The North Sea is the powerhouse driving Europe’s renewable and net zero ambitions, helping to bolster energy security on the continent. So, it’s crucial we protect its critical energy infrastructure now and in the future’, Andrew Bowie, British minister for nuclear and renewables, said.

‘Strengthening ties with our key northern European neighbours as we have today will do just that, ensuring the infrastructure is resilient against those who may seek to threaten or disrupt it’, he added.”

It should be noted that the Nordstream pipeline explosion in September 2022 affected gas flow into Germany and northern Europe.  This caused gas prices to rise in several European nations.

The United States was widely blamed for this economic and environmental disaster.

Politico reported:

“Denmark’s Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities said the North Sea is becoming ‘a hub for critical infrastructure’, connecting European countries through power cables, gas pipes and telecommunications links.

‘This means that an increasing cross-border interdependence has emerged — and with it an increased risk of sabotage and unwanted attention from hostile actors’, the ministry said.”

In October 2023, a second gas pipeline, connecting Finland and Estonia, also in the Baltic Sea, was damaged in another ‘incident’.

Concerns over underwater sabotage and hybrid attacks have also skyrocketed in regards to the North Sea.

The six northern European countries will review their security measures, and aim to share information and knowledge.

“‘This joint declaration is an important foundation for ensuring security and is a clear example of our common goals. Together we are stronger’, said Norway’s Minister of Energy Terje Aasland in a statement.”

Belgian Minister for Justice and North Sea Paul Van Tigchelt:

“’The offshore and underwater infrastructure is assured of the same level of security across borders, instead of varying from country to country. We are committed to a uniform approach, a better exchange of information and reporting of incidents via a secure platform’, he said.”

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